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Daytime aerial view of the MAB at Tonsley, showcasing rows of solar panels on its roof and established roads, housing, and trees in the distance.

South Australia continues its leadership in sustainable energy with the introduction of a District Energy Scheme at Tonsley Innovation District, to be powered by one of Australia’s largest rooftop solar arrays.

When complete, approximately 20,000 solar photovoltaic panels will be installed on the expansive eight-hectare roofs of the Main Assembly Building (MAB) and adjoining TAFE SA building, with a total installed capacity of up to 6MW providing power for Tonsley businesses, organisations and residents.

Enwave Energy was selected as the preferred proponent through an Expression of Interest to deliver a renewable energy solution for Tonsley, in keeping with the district’s commitment to sustainability and innovation and its 6 Star Green Star Communities rating.

The company will build, own and operate the district energy facility, drawing on its experience in owning and operating similar district energy services at Sydney Central Park and Sydney Airport.

The company will invest approximately $40 million over a 50-year period for battery storage, photovoltaics, smart technologies, future MAB electrical assets.

The system will optimise solar energy generation and battery storage for the peak load of the entire Tonsley precinct, enhancing security of energy supply and providing competitive energy pricing to all customer classes, including commercial and residential.

Tonsley is managed by Renewal SA on behalf of the state government and is the home of leading firms in the renewable energy sector, including SIMEC ZEN Energy, Tesla, AZZO and Siemens.

Renewal SA General Manager, Property, Mark Devine said the District Energy Scheme would further consolidate the district’s role as a hub for investment and innovation in this sector.

“To help make the most of this on-site expertise, Enwave Energy will subcontract SIMEC ZEN Energy to install and maintain the solar panels infrastructure and will engage Siemens to provide smart network design services,” he said.

“Initially, the District Energy Scheme will include access to electricity and recycled water services for the entire Tonsley community and, gas and domestic hot water services for the residential community only.

“There are also plans to expand the scheme to include a thermal network for the entire site for building space heating and cooling requirements.”

Businesses at Tonsley have the choice to buy their electricity from Enwave Energy at competitive market rates or from the energy retailer of their choice.

Enwave Energy will employ five full time people in professional roles, as well as contracting local businesses to provide ongoing services. There is also potential for collaboration with Flinders University and TAFE SA to train people to work in the energy sector.

All costs and risks associated with operating and maintaining the utility infrastructure will be the responsibility of Enwave Energy.

Enwave Energy is backed by Enwave Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of Brookfield Infrastructure, which designs, builds, owns and operates water, gas and energy networks for entire communities.

Mr Devine said the Enwave proposal would deliver on Tonsley’s commitment to become a climate smart district.

“It will offer a world class District Energy Scheme, incorporating on-site renewable power generation, battery storage and smart technologies that can be scaled up as the district grows.

The scheme will supply businesses and organisations at Tonsley with a reliable, competitively priced and secure electricity supply generated by renewable energy.

The scheme will help consolidate Tonsley as a hub for renewable energy investment and innovation and help to attract more businesses keen to establish in an environmentally sustainable innovation district.

Tonsley Innovation District is located at the premises of the former Mitsubishi car manufacturing plant in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

The district is home to over 30 businesses and more than 150 members of the two co-working spaces on site, plus the Flinders University School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics and TAFE SA. About 1400 people are employed on site – more than when Mitsubishi ceased manufacturing cars on the site in 2008 and there are about 6500 students at Tonsley each year.

Enwave Australia Chief Executive, Cameron Evans, said the company was thrilled to have been chosen as the incumbent utility provider at Tonsley.

“We look forward to working with Renewal SA and local companies to develop innovative solutions for the community’s energy and water needs, ’’ he said.

“Enwave Energy delivers innovative energy solutions,” he said. “We aim to create, maintain and provide a smart and sustainable service.

“Our bespoke solutions are both cost and resource efficient and, because we aren’t encumbered by legacy systems, we pursue all forms of proven technology to deliver the best outcomes possible.”

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